No, Bruce, The Glory Days Won’t Pass You By

Now I think I’m going down to the well tonight
and I’m going to drink till I get my fill
And I hope when I get old I don’t sit around thinking about it
but I probably will
Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture
a little of the glory of, well time slips away
and leaves you with nothing mister but
boring stories of glory days.
– Bruce Springsteen, “Glory Days”

When Bruce Springsteen wrote those words he was 35 years old. When I heard those words on the radio while driving last night I was 47. The words hit me differently now than they did when I first heard them as a teen in 1984. Back then I thought 35 was old. With the average life expectancy in the U.S. being 74.56 years old in 1984, 35 was almost halfway there and certainly a time in one’s life where they would want to be slowing down and not living quite as hard as earlier in their lives.

Now, 33 years later, the average life expectancy has gone up a few years and I’ve reached middle age. I hear that song and reflect on it quite differently. Yes, there’s an element of nostalgia just as the song was meant to induce. But I also think ahead and get excited for things to come. I don’t feel anywhere near as old as I thought I would at this age despite having some experiences I thought I wouldn’t have until I was a bit older than when they occurred.

I think of the character in the song having his beer and resigning himself to be a sad old man with nothing to talk about but the past before he’s even that old. And I think about how tragic that is. While I get very sentimental for certain times in my life and still consider the friends I grew up with to be among my best friends even though I almost never see or communicate with most of them, I have never looked at my future and considered my glory days to be behind me. There are always new experiences ahead. New technologies that push you to adjust the way you live your life. New relationships and experiences that shape the person you are today, not allowing you to remain stagnant.

No, Bruce, the glory days will not pass you by. That is unless you let them.

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